The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2018

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Page 47 of 134

july 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  45 t's hard to believe a spirit could be around for nearly 175 years and still be considered "under the radar." And yet, that's exactly how many American drinkers would describe Zucca Rabarbaro, a member of Disaronno International's esteemed portfolio that's been solely owned by Disaronno parent company Illva Saronno for nearly 30 years. According to Zucca lore, Ettore Zucca developed the original recipe for his wife, Tilde, after she was advised to take a formula of rhubarb rootstock—commonly said to "cleanse" the body, among other medicinal uses—and other herbs to aid digestion. "Rhubarb rootstock is one of the most widely used herbs in Chinese medicine still today," says Alex Room, Zucca Brand Ambassador for the Pacific Northwest. While this rootstock—one of the smokiest herbs on the market—serves as the foundational flavor profile of Zucca, other ingredients like bitter orange, gentian, and cardamom are easily detected on the tongue. The reddish-black liquor has a decidedly smoky aroma that conjures the alluring scent of an upscale cigar bar, and the silky texture establishes a sweetness on the palate before evolving to a bitter- ness on the finish. This complexity makes Zucca an acquired taste, not unlike many of the classic cocktails modern-day connoisseurs consider must-haves—including the Negroni, which is now so heralded it's earned its own annual weeklong celebration. In Italy, Zucca is most commonly served at the end of a meal as a digestif, and in Milan, Room says Zucca is often mixed with the Italian soda Chinotto over ice in a tall glass with a lemon twist. "Chinotto has very similar botanicals as Zucca and they pair really well together," he adds. According to Room, Zucca is currently experienc- ing a "resurgence" even in establishments that are less cocktail-focused. "Bartenders are getting into these types of apéritifs and serving it to you after din- ner, then also mixing it into cocktails," says Deanna Powell, Zucca Brand Ambassador for the Northeast. THE VINTAGE ITALIAN APÉRITIF FINDS NEW LIFE IN BARS ACROSS THE U.S. by Jill Sieracki / photos by Timothy Murray Young Kim, Beverage Director at The Flatiron Room in Manhattan, serves the Zu-groni de Oaxaca with Zucca. Other popular NYC bars that feature the apéritif include Amor y Amargo, Death & Co, Marlow & Sons, Dead Rabbit, and BlackTail.

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